As a new school year begins in New York, several homeschooling families have had problems with their local school district when they have tried to submit their required paperwork.
Many parents are frustrated that they already must submit more homeschool paperwork than anywhere in the country. Yet, seven school districts still seem to have found different ways to make simply starting the homeschool year even more complicated.
Under New York law, a parent begins by submitting a notice of intent that they will be homeschooling their children. This is to be submitted by July 1 or within 14 days of beginning their homeschool program.
For parents who have homeschooled for years, the notice is usually submitted with their last quarterly report and annual assessment for the previous year (due by June 30). However, for those who are homeschooling year-to-year, it is perfectly fine to submit your notice after July 1 if it is within 14 days from when you begin your homeschool program in the new school year.
Making It Harder
Even something as simple as the notice of intent can be made more difficult by school officials.
An HSLDA member family was recently told by the Mount Vernon City School District that “we are not able to accept one (1) letter of intent for three students.” The district went on to inform the family that they would need to submit a separate letter of intent to homeschool each student before they would respond with the homeschool packet.
A homeschool family in the North Syracuse Central School District who submitted their homeschool notice for their children was told that “you must register with the district before we can send you the district policies and regulations for home instruction.”
A family in Odessa-Montour Central School District was told that they had to fill out the registration packet with the district to homeschool.
A member family in Arlington Central School District was told they had to fill out an enrollment packet and schedule an in-person meeting to show photo ID to be able to homeschool their daughter.
New York law does not require families to enroll or register their child with the local public school district to homeschool them. However, the New York State Education Department does say that a parent must provide proof of age and proof of residency upon request.
This is based upon two education statutes that generally apply to parents with school-age children. HSLDA often helps these parents with the enrollment or registration issue while providing verification of proof of residency and school age for their children.
Not in the Plan
Several homeschool parents have also already had difficulties with their individualized home instruction plan (IHIP) submissions, another New York homeschool law requirement.
A member family in Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District was told that they needed to resubmit their homeschool paperwork with the district’s IHIP forms. School officials also told the family that they would need to include “an outline of the curriculum you intend to follow” in addition to the list of syllabi, textbooks, curriculum, or plan of instruction for each subject required by New York law.
In the Unatego Central School District, a member family had their child’s kindergarten IHIP rejected by the district and the Delaware-Chenango-Madison Otsego BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). The family was told that they were not actually required to report for a kindergarten student. But, if they did report, they had to include math, English/language arts, reading, spelling, writing, US history, geography, science, health, music, art, and physical education in their IHIP.
In each of these situations, we contacted the local school officials on behalf of our member families. We informed the districts of what state law actually requires while defending the right of these parents to educate their children as they desired. We expect each school district to eventually come to the right conclusion. And, as this school year has only just begun, our New York legal team expects more situations in the coming weeks.